A recent article in Associations Now about VUCA – volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity – inspired us to revisit the difference between operational and strategic planning. Throughout this week’s blog, we link up to some useful resources to help you to be more nimble and strategic.
In order for associations to be successful, they must be involved in in the continuous “refreshment” of strategy. A strategic plan, reviewed once every three to five years just won’t cut it in today’s rapidly changing environment. That is why we advocate for a process of thinking and planning strategic.
An effective process for planning strategically involves an approach significantly different than traditional annual operational planning masquerading as a strategic plan. The board’s agenda is reorganized to focus attention on issues of strategic direction and high-level policy. A planning process that can truly be called strategic is:
- driven by an envisioned future which clearly articulates the outcomes to be pursued in terms that reflect the value or benefit to be received by mission or members, and
- the discipline of strategy, when applied in a participative environment, that promotes a culture of trust and accountability that enables empowered work groups to quickly make adjustments.
Because outcomes are clear, progress can be monitored and near instant adjustments can be made in response to either changes in the environment or experience in implementation.
A purposeful annual review of progress toward goals and objectives that includes both member and staff leadership and that focuses on accomplishment and not just activity reinforces the culture of shared accountability.
Clarity and consensus on what will constitute success, the informed consideration of choices, and continuous monitoring and adjustment is inherent in any planning process that is in fact strategic.